“I have had enough, Lord.” The words of the prophet Elijah, from 1 Kings 19 could easily have been written by me. Overcome by discouragement, exhaustion, and grief, Elijah’s prayer communicated his desire for the Lord to relieve him from the pressures of his life. Weary from battle, from ministering to a stubborn people, and from being a lonely voice for God’s truth, his discouragement came from a place that desired for God’s standard.
The response to that prayer? God’s provision and a journey to a place where he would be hidden in a cave.
Like the prophet Elijah, I feel like I am in a season where God has hidden me in a cave. Elijah wasn’t hiding, but he was hidden. He was hidden for his own protection, and for a season. He was hidden so that God could prepare him, give him rest, and strengthen him so that later he could use him to fulfill his calling.
This wasn’t the first time that God hid Elijah. Earlier, in 1 Kings 17, Elijah was hidden by a river, and God promised to send ravens to feed Elijah. Ravens. That made no sense. Elijah had never experienced or seen that before. Others would not have predicted that God would work in that way. Yet, that is exactly what God did.
Like Elijah, in this season, God has been sending ravens to nourish and feed me. As I am in my cave, or my river, or whatever you want to call working from my bedroom during the coronavirus, I feel so different than the life I have lived for the last 7 years…. The last 17 years…. Normally I am with the public every day. Now I am with myself every day. My children are at school, my husband is at work. Even church is no longer a space to be fed in this season. It makes no sense. I have never experienced or seen God work in this way before. My mentors and friends would not have predicted that God would work in this way. Yet it is exactly what God is doing.
So I wait for the ravens.
I don’t recognize them when they come. But after they have gone, I feel fed, nurtured, refreshed, pastored.
The ravens come in the form of professors, counselors, spiritual directors, books, articles, assignments. I thought that starting my masters degree during the pandemic would help me to feel like I am not wasting the time. It certainly does that, but it is doing something else. It is bringing to me the nourishment, the soul care that I need. That I have needed for quite some time. I am slowly learning that our hearts become restored and healed in our seasons of hiddenness.
Last week during a moment of worship, God showed me a picture of a sonogram. It was clearly a sonogram, much like the ones I got when I was pregnant with each of my children, and the Lord used that picture to reveal to my heart that I am in fact expecting. Just because what He is doing is hidden, doesn’t mean He isn’t working together a miracle. Preparing internally for what will eventually be seen externally. Just like when you are expecting a child, preparations need to be made. The Lord helped me to understand that I need to prepare like I would if I was expecting a child. When you are expecting a child, you get the room ready, you prepare your heart, you purchase the tools you will need to handle the responsibility that God gives you. It’s a temporary season of growth and pain that will eventually give birth to new life.
So I prepare. I expect. I receive. And I wait.
The way that Elijah comes out of the cave is different than what you might imagine. The Lord did tell Elijah to expect Him, that He was getting ready to pass by. But He didn’t come in the obvious. He came in the stillness.
A great and powerful wind, but the Lord was not in the wind.
After the wind, an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake.
After the earthquake, a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire.
After the fire, came a gentle whisper. It was in this whisper that the Lord spoke, giving Elijah direction, pulling him out of his season of hiddenness.
As I wait for the Lord to pull me out of this season, I recognize that it’s in the stillness that I will hear His voice.